GIVE aims to enhance education and promote empathy through sending preloaded educational laptops to Uganda

By Daniella Cohen, Bennett Preskill, Hannah Chonkan-Urow, Partha Rajendra, Zoey Melinger and Corey Novick

$2385 out of $900 pledged

from 1 supporters in 30 days

265% funded
1 supporters

GIVE (Going, Innovating, Volunteering and Educating) is a project with two main goals: promoting cultural understanding and strengthening education for students at our partner schools. GIVE was co-founded as a letter writing project, and we have sent hundreds of letters and flip flops from across the US to schools in Uganda, India and Rwanda. Our pen pals learn to empathize and interact with a different culture that they otherwise would not have been exposed to.

We hope to fundraise for three netbooks to send to Uganda with pre-loaded educational content. Many of our partner schools abroad lack the resources to take advantage of the internet to improve education, so we plan to update the content by sending flash drives with volunteers going to the school. The students in Uganda will be able to access and explore the pool of content and widen their education. Our high school will collaborate with the school in Uganda by sending video lessons and projects and receive feedback through the volunteers visiting the school. In the long-term, the school will set up internet access and use the netbooks to directly communicate with schools in the US. Then GIVE and the existing pen pals will be able to connect efficiently and work on educational projects together. We believe that collaboration is the future of education.

Our Advisor

Judi Elman is an outstanding English teacher at Highland Park High School who sparks creativity and innovative thinking in the classroom. She pushes her students to think beyond the surface of literature and situations in everyday life and wants to share her passion for the humanities with students in Uganda. Her classroom environment is special; she instills good English writing skills, but more importantly, good morals. Educators like Mrs. Elman give students the drive to change the world.

Our Inspiration

Our inspiration to provide the power of the internet to online and offline students stemmed from what we learned about the school in Bangalore, India and other schools GIVE has connected with. Students received an imbalanced education emphasizing rote memorization and math and science. Humanities and liberal arts are essential to a child's growth, but, without the resources, a balanced education can be difficult to attain. The internet enables access to the world’s knowledge and content on all subjects. However, for many schools GIVE has connected with, internet has not been installed; these students do not have the option to explore the vast amount of knowledge that the internet has to offer. For schools that do not have internet access installed but have electricity, GIVE will be pre-loading information and content onto netbooks. Access to GIVE’s “offline” internet allows students to close their educational gaps and take control of their learning.

Why We’re Doing It

Every child deserves a world class education, and students who have access to the internet have a limitless world of knowledge at their fingertips. They can use a search engine to widen their education by learning the laws of physics or the wise world of Plato. But for schools limited by funding and lacking internet access, learning is not as easy as it should be. GIVE wants to replicate the wide breadth of information on the internet to schools without access to it by “preloading” the internet resources on these netbooks.

What We’ve Done So Far

GIVE was founded as a letter writing project. GIVE has sent hundreds of letters from schools across the US to schools in India, Uganda and Rwanda. Letter-writing fosters incredible bonds between students that develop empathy and cultural understanding. GIVE also has sent books and thousands of flip-flops signed with messages of hope to the schools we have connected with.

Daniella and Partha have led workshops on starting ventures through Ashoka's Youth Venture at Marquette University and Georgetown University. They have also led workshops at The Points of Light Conference of Volunteering and Service and Northwestern University’s “Opportunities for the Future” conference. They have been mentioned on sites such as Forbes, Youth-Leader, The Official Project of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development UNDESD and AFS. GIVE has been featured in Daniella’s local news stations and newspapers.

Daniella was invited to speak at the Harvard College Social Innovation Collaborative, presenting on the importance of empathy and technology. She was also invited to be a Youth Venture representative at a panel discussion on changemaking at the Korean American Community Foundation in New York, and she shared her experiences living with the children of the Sahasra Deepika school in Bangalore, India at the Sahasra Deepika Annual Gala in Washington D.C. Daniella was featured in a Belgian documentary: “30 International Social Entrepreneurs” by GoYoung.

Daniella has received the Presidents Volunteer Service Award, Princeton Prize in Race Relations ($1,000 prize), The Prudential Spirit of Community Award ($1,000 prize), the ABC and Youth Service America’s Summer of Service Award ($1,000 prize), Consumer Bankers Foundation and Ashoka’s Youth Venture National Semi-Finalist, Regional Winner of Banking On Youth Award ($1,000 prize), Gloria Barron Prize National Finalist, and The Kohl’s Cares Regional Award. GIVE has also received grants from the Rotary Club of Highland Park, GenerationOn and Kids in Community Service (KICS).

GIVE’s recent video on the importance of technology in education won honorable mention for the White House Film Festival. All of the grants and award money received has been donated to GIVE, which has funded letter writing exchanges, flip-flop donations, and the recent installment of computers and internet at the Sahasra Deepika school in Bangalore, India.

Who We’re Impacting

This venture will impact students on both sides of the connection. In the US, students are learning more about Uganda and connecting with students of a different culture allows empathy to thrive. In Uganda, students will have access to a range of educational games and videos to widen their learning and be able to explore.

Meet the Team

Daniella Cohen

Daniella, a co-founder of GIVE, is passionate about spreading empathy and cultural understanding with her peers and community members. In fifth grade, she started a pen pal connection with a school in Bangalore, India. She has been writing to her pen pal, Suma, for five years and has learned the importance of compassion and friendship through her. She has traveled to India twice and most recently installed computers and internet at Suma’s school. She hopes to enhance the education of the other schools GIVE has connected with. She is currently a sophomore at Highland Park High School and is on the Girls Varsity Golf Team, is a proud mathlete and also loves to figure skate.

Bennett Preskill

Bennett is currently a sophomore at Highland Park High School who wants to share his love for math and science with students around the world. He is a math nerd at heart and is inspired to connect with the school in Fort Portal, Uganda. Bennett is a star on the Highland Park Math Team, Soccer Team, and Volleyball Team!

Hannah Chonkan-Urow

Hannah is currently a sophomore at Highland Park High School. She loves writing letters and learning about new cultures with her pen pal Triveni who lives in Bangalore, India. Hannah also swims fast on the Varsity Highland Park Girls Swim Team.

Partha Rajendra

Partha, a co-founder of GIVE, applies his knowledge of technology to better the education for schools across the world. He is currently a junior at The University of Virginia studying computer science. Partha is an important member to SEED (Student Entrepreneurs for Economic Development). Partha applied his extensive knowledge when installing the computers and internet in India. Partha is passionate about bringing the internet to offline schools.

Zoey Melinger

Zoey is currently a sophomore at Highland Park High School. School is very important to her and she feels it is necessary to share her love of learning through GIVE. In her free time, she runs on the Highland Park Track and Field Hockey Team.

Corey Novick

Corey is currently a sophomore at Highland Park High School interested in marketing and public relations. Corey loves to find new ways to involve his school and community through marketing. Corey is a great filmmaker who helps with the filming of videos for GIVE. He is also interested in DECA as he made it to internationals for his marketing category!

Fundraising Goals

With $900 dollars, can provide two netbooks ($400), four flashdrives ($15), and a few educational games ($40). We reached this goal in five days.
With $1400, we can provide three laptops. We reached this goal in two short days!
With $2000 dollars, we're upgrading the laptops to provide more functionality and also providing four instead of three. This means we'll be able to involve two more schools in the area, and the laptops will be in the library where more students can access them. This is letting G.I.V.E. reach and affect more students.